Paper Type

Master's Thesis


College of Arts and Sciences

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



NACO controlled Corporate Body

University of North Florida. Department of Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. Christopher Leone

Second Advisor

Dr. Terry L. Maple

Third Advisor

Dr. Valerie D. Segura

Department Chair

Dr. Lori Lange

College Dean

Dr. George Rainbolt


Large carnivores in human care have been reported to engage in stereotypic behaviors. Such behavior is thought to be correlated with high stress levels, in part, due to captive environments limiting opportunities for functional consequences and environmental stimuli. Moreover, there are several arguments stating that stereotypic behaviors can be indicative of poor welfare, as they can often have severe negative emotional and physical effects on the animal. The first portion of this study included a five-phase treatment analysis which evaluated whether environmental manipulations decrease the frequency of stereotypic behaviors including pacing, over-grooming and tail-sucking exhibited by a single male jaguar housed at Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens. The aim of the present study was to evaluate possible environmental variables that were reported by staff as likely variables maintaining or promoting stereotypic behavior. Data collection occurred during a 10-week evaluation and followed an ABCAD reversal design. Both behavioral data and fecal glucocorticoid metabolite levels were analyzed. The second portion of this analysis included a multi-institutional survey to assess the prevalence of the stereotypic behaviors exhibited by zoo-housed jaguars in North American AZA-accredited institutions. Results from the behavioral assessment revealed a decrease in stereotypic behaviors with the implementation of treatment conditions. Hormone analyses revealed that stereotypic pacing is not presently correlated with higher stress levels for this animal. Finally, survey results revealed that a significant portion of the North American jaguar population engages in stereotypic behaviors. Further analyses are necessary to identify potential patterns or environmental predictors for the development of stereotypic behaviors.